How to Photograph a Collision for Evidence

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When you've been involved in an accident, it is important to document the damages in order to provide visual evidence of the impact. While your insurance adjuster will photograph the vehicle, take your own photos to store in your personal file for future insurance or legal use.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable or digital camera
  • Cell phone with photo capability
  • Carry a disposable camera in your purse or briefcase for emergency situations like accidents. Do not keep the camera in your glove box or console, as changes in temperature could affect the integrity of the film. If you don't have a disposable camera, you can use a cell phone to document collision damages.

  • Photograph the vehicle damages at the accident scene, if possible. Automobiles may incur further damage as they are transported from the scene, so on-scene photos will document the scene most accurately. Don't forget to photograph the scene from all angles and include shots of skid marks, broken glass and other important evidence.

  • Avoid taking photographs from an oblique (diagonal) angle, as they can be difficult to evaluate. Instead, photograph vehicle damage straight on so you don't distort the appearance of the damage.

  • Take several photographs of the vehicle's exterior from different angles. Capture at least two photos of each side of the vehicle, centering the front wheel well in one photo and the rear wheel well in another. Take an additional shot of the entire side, if it will fit into your camera's frame. Take a photo of the back and front ends of the vehicle, and if logistically possible, you should capture a shot of the vehicle's top, as well.

  • Snap several photos of the vehicle's interior, focusing on deployed airbags or car parts that may have contacted injured passengers. Make sure you use a flash to properly illuminate interior photos.

  • Don't forget to capture the license plates clearly in several of your photos.

  • Plan on taking twice the number of photos you think you'll need, in case some of them don't turn out or are unclear representations of the damage. You cannot take "too many" photos of collision evidence.

  • Visit the Consumer Law Page to read more about how to document an accident, along with tips about how to deal with insurance agencies (see Resources below).

Tips & Warnings

  • Take pictures to indicate the extent of any injuries sustained in the collision, along with photos documenting the progression of treatment.
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